CBS revamps low-rated "Early Show," ousts anchors

Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:52pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CBS News' "The Early Show" ousted long-time anchors Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez on Tuesday to rescue the low-rated, third-place finisher among morning talk shows.

Starting on January 3, Erica Hill and Chris Wragge, who have been co-anchors of the Saturday morning telecast of "The Early Show" will take the weekday positions of Smith and Rodriguez, CBS News said.

Jeff Glor, who has anchored the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News," will move to mornings and take up the post of "Early Show" news anchor, and Marysol Castro will become the weather newscaster of the morning program.

"This new team brings vibrancy, intelligence and warmth that I think America will grow to love," Sean McManus, president, CBS News and Sports, said in a statement.

The changes come roughly a year after David Friedman took the reins of the "Early Show" as executive producer. The move surprised the normally staid world of morning TV news because anchors rarely change and Smith has been a long-time contributor at CBS.

Smith will shift to hard news gathering and substitute as anchor on "The Evening News with Katie Couric." He also will have prominent positions on political program "Face the Nation" and lifestyle show, "Sunday Morning." CBS said it was discussing an ongoing role for Rodriguez.

The changes follow a season in which, from September 2009 to September 2010, "The Early Show" lured an average daily audience of around 2.5 million viewers -- its lowest average viewership since the 2000-2001 season.

In the most recent week, rivals "Today" on NBC pulled in roughly 5.6 million viewers a day, compared with 4.6 million for ABC's "Good Morning America" and 2.9 million for "The Early Show," according to audience tracker Nielsen.

"We weren't getting the results that we hoped to get," Friedman told show business magazine The Hollywood Reporter. "It's about finding the right team."

(Editing by Greg McCune)